A/N: Two in one day! Gasp!
Enjoy guys. This is for not updating for a few days. Can't promise you'll get another in the next 24 hours - my internet is being wonky and I have some school work to finish up before Thanksgiving but I promise another in the next day or two. I split this from one chapter in to two. It's still about five pages long so no complaints!
"What do you mean you're not going," Narcissa hissed as she slammed her brush down on the table. She had just finished styling her hair into a carefully indifferent look and turned to glare at her insolent son who was standing the doorway to her room. Draco had the sense to look slightly abashed.
"Ginny and I aren't speaking right now. I don't want to make her uncomfortable," Draco replied, his eyes on the floor. Narcissa turned back to her mirror, muttering to herself.
"I have to finish my makeup. Go wait in the study," she replied finally, making him feel very much like he was the ten year old in her house. He made a hasty retreat to the family parlor and poured himself a glass of whiskey. He was halfway through it when Narcissa walked in. She was dressed fashionably in a black pencil skirt and a green blouse.
"We're going to be late for his match," Narcissa said as she pulled a cloak from the closet and pulled it on over her clothing.
"I think we should talk about this before we go, Mother," Draco replied. He lifted the glass in his hand only to have it disappear. He frowned into the empty space and then looked up to meet his mother's eyes.
"I will not suffer another drunk in this family," Narcissa hissed. She pulled Draco's cloak from the closet and held it out to him. "I certainly did not get rid of the last one to have you fall apart. For god's sake Draco. This isn't some party you're blowing off. This is the Minister's Yule Ball. Your son will be there, I will be there. And you will attend to represent this family's company. I don't care if you are uncomfortable, you have to think about your son's legacy. Your father would have done it."
Draco paled visibly as he pulled his cloak on. His mother had not been on one of her tirades in a long while. He supposed that he had Ginny to thank for that as well. The potion she had brewed had restored Narcissa to her former glory, a formidable force no longer offset but weeks worth of 'off-days.' Not that he hadn't missed his mother, the mother that stood before him now, but he certainly hadn't missed her lectures on duty. He sighed heavily.
"I'm not a drunk mother," he said finally. Although she continued glaring at him he saw her eyes soften slightly. He looked down at the floor again contemplating, before he raised his eyes to her again. "And I do appreciate everything you have done for both us. Both Scorpius and myself. I'll go to the Ball. But I don't have a date."
"Well, as it turns out I've arranged that for you," Narcissa said with a smile. Before Draco could respond she had disapparated. He sighed again and followed suit, knowing that they would miss the beginning of Scorpius' match otherwise.
Narcissa slipped her arm through Draco's as they climbed up to the box they'd be watching the match in.
"Now darling, play nice tonight," she said softly as she maneuvered him into the box. He now realized why Ginny hadn't been down on the pitch with Scorpius, she and Harry were in the corner of the box conversing with Ron and Luna.
Luna's son, Lorcan, had just started playing with Scorpius' team, replacing one of the other Chaser's who's parents had moved to the Continent for business. Ron had been helping Ginny coach that week, giving the team's keeper a couple of pointers. George was also in the box, though speaking with Theodore and enjoying a glass of firewhiskey. His son Fred was a beater on the opposing team. It was the first time the boys had played a match against one another.
"I'm getting a drink," Draco hissed at his mother. She smiled at his indulgently and floated off to mingle. Draco walked to the cabinet in the corner and poured himself a glass of whiskey. He felt someone's presence at his back before they spoke.
"The women sent me over to play nice," Harry said as he poured himself a drink. The two turned to face Ginny and Narcissa together, Draco trying to keep the scowl off his face. It made him slightly happier to see that Harry was struggling as much as him.
"She cracks the whip and you jump, huh?" Draco asked, a smirk pasted on his face, otherwise masked in indifference. The two could have been talking about the most recent article in Quidditch Weekly.
"Be that as it may, it appears I won this round Malfoy," Harry replied. Draco was impressed that he had more of a poker face now than he had sported in school.
"No matter – it's not over yet Potter. Let's be honest, why would she choose to muddy her bloodline with the likes of you?"
"Still sporting a brand Draco?" Harry spat before he walked off. Draco remained impassive as he made his way to the window to watch his son play. People in the box left him alone, except for Theo, who came to talk to him for a spell about a mutually beneficial business proposition. Draco was quickly learning that the parents didn't come to watch their kids play bad Quiddtich at these games, at least not the parents of the team Ginny had picked for his son. They came to negotiate business and have a couple drinks. His father would have been proud of her choice.
"Draco," a soft voice said approaching him from the side. He inclined his head in response as Tracie came to stand next to him. "Theo told me there was a match today. I would have been here sooner…But I was dealing with a situation."
"Pulling Sylvia out of another gutter?" Draco asked in a hushed tone. Tracie didn't reply but she laid a hand on his arm. Draco relaxed a little at the touch and his body instinctively leaned toward her. "I can't watch her hurt herself like this."
"I know," Tracie said softly. Draco threw an arm around her shoulder in a familiar gesture, a familiar pain. It lasted only a moment but Tracie looked up at him with a knowing smile and turned the talk to the game, asking about how Scorpius was progressing.
Ginny was negotiating a deal for one of her newer versions of the wolfsbane regime when she saw Tracie Davis walk in. She hadn't know the girl in school, had brushed elbows with her at a couple of the Parkinson get-togethers, but as far as she knew Davis ran with a crowd completely apart from Pansy's at this point. The Nott's had reformed after the birth of their first child, thrown into parenthood in a rather surprised fashion. Unlike Draco and Astoria, they hadn't planned it. But Pansy was a good mother and she was happy to leave the partying style the group had taken up after school. Ginny didn't understand that lifestyle.
She watched as Tracie touched his arm in a familiar gesture, and as he pulled her into a one armed embrace, and the smile that lit up the woman's face as she looked up at him. Ginny had to keep herself from frowning as she finished the conversation and sealed it with a handshake.
"They're not together," Theo offered from her elbow. Ginny looked over in surprise. She had known him for some time, but he always managed to surprise her, and he was surprisingly good at reading people.
"They look very...familiar," Ginny replied. Theo handed her a glass of wine that she took gratefully. He seemed to always know when she needed a drink. She took a tip and eyed Draco again.
"They have a long history. So yes, I suppose familiar as good a term as any. He's been in a mood all week – want to talk about what happened?"
"Meltdown. Otherwise no. He's a big boy Theo, he can talk to me himself if he wants too."
"Probably won't though. He's more stubborn than his son. Heard you're going to Yule with Harry."
"Election year," Ginny said simply. "I've got to get back to the lab. I'll see you at the Ball Theo."
When Ginny approached Draco and Tracie she felt rather than saw the other woman give her the once over. She was glad she had planned to speak to potential buyers today and had pulled on an a charcoal pencil skirt and matching blazer. Underneath the jacket she wore a red blouse, still sporting her son's colors even in her work clothes.
Tracie was in a simple red sweater dress that hung conservatively just above her knee and a pair of knee-high boots with stiletto heels. Ginny rather thought she looked like she had worn her clothes from the night before and merely scrubbed off some of the caked on makeup.
"Draco," Ginny said. He nodded in acknowledgment but his face didn't show any emotion. A blank slate. Ginny frowned internally but didn't show her disappointment. "I have to get back to the lab and wrap up for the holidays. Can you tell Scorpius I'll see him tomorrow for dinner at your mother's."
"Yes. Did you get my owl with what I bought him for Christmas."
"I did. I had already bought him a potion's kit and some books so we didn't overlap. I made sure no one else did as well," Ginny replied. Draco had forgotten that her family would also be buying Scorpius gifts.
"Ms. Davis, nice seing you again," Ginny said as she departed. Tracie watched her leave and then chuckled.
"I think you ruffled her feathers a little," Tracie said as she turned her attention back to the game. Draco shrugged.
"We have an arrangement. I think it's time we both realized that that's all it could ever be."
"If you say so Draco."
"Are you going to the Yule Ball?" He asked as the snitch came into view. They were momentarily distracted as the stands came alive. When it disappeared again Tracie shook her head.
"Election year. I didn't get an invite," she replied. It was common knowledge that during election years marked Death Eaters were a rarity at the ball. Draco turned towards her, a mischevious glimmer in his eyes.
"Excellent. For old time's sake – I never did get to take you Seventh Year," he said with a smile. Tracie frowned.
"You didn't exactly give me much time to get a gown."
"Go see my mother's woman. Tell her to get it done tonight" Draco held up his hand to interrupt her abrupt reply. "I'll pay. Please?"
Tracie was going to say no. Until he said please. He looked particularly desperate. She would have pressed him to bring Sylvia, if she hadn't carted the younger girl off to another detox center that morning. The holidays were never fun, for any of them. It was a lot harder to forget how much you were hated when you faced the reality that friends and loved ones were gone. For nothing. She finally nodded.
"I'll just go take care of that then. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Dinner, my mother's?"
Tracie huffed but nodded as she exited.
"Oh Ginerva you look just gorgeous," Narcissa said as Ginny stepped into her foyer and pulled a scarlet cloak off. Ginny was wearing a floor length white gown with her typical sweetheart neckline. Draco paused at the top of the stairs to observe while Ginerva and his mother made small talk. The gown was risqué. The bodice down to just above her knees was adorned in a soft floral lace overlay, the underlying fabric a light gold. At the knee the fabric turned into opaque white gauze, matching the color of the lace, flaring out in a mermaid type style and showing off the tall gold stilettos and her shapely calves. She had on the teardrop necklace Narcissa had given her before.
Tracie arrived just after her and Draco began his descent as his mother and Ginerva greeted the newcomer. He offered to take Tracie's cloak and she frowned for a minute and then looked to Narcissa.
"Narcissa, I was actually wondering if you could help me with something before I show off this gorgeous dress. I had a bit of a mishap putting it on," Tracie said softly. Narcissa quickly swept her off to the bathroom, a look of understanding in her eyes. Draco detected the quick lie from years of listening but Ginny merely offered him a weak smile.
"I hope it won't be too much of a bother but Harry is going to pick me up here after dinner."
"MUM!" Scopius came barreling down the stairs and almost knocked Ginny off of her high stilettos, had Draco not caught him by the shoulders he likely would have. Draco scowled at him and Scorpius had the sense to look momentarily chastised before he threw his arms around Ginny's waist.
"I missed you too love," Ginny said with a smile. She squatted down to give him a kiss on the cheek. He looked around to make sure no one had seen and she pinched his nose.
"I checked first," she whispered conspiratorially. He nodded, of course she had.
"Grandmother is cooking your favorite for dinner," Scorpius said, taking Ginny's hand and leading her towards the Drawing Room. Draco was glad for the distraction and went to find Narcissa.
"I wasn't thinking when I bought the dress," Tracie was muttering softly. "It was just so lovely. And then I got home and I put it on…And…How could I forget Narcissa?"
"Darling, I can fix it. Just stand up. Dry your eyes, you're ruining your lovely makeup," Narcissa replied with a soft smile. Draco stood outside the door scowling, remembering another time.
"Draco what am I going to do," Pansy wailed. She was in a gorgeous one of a kind Vera Wang dress. It had off the shoulder straps and the bodice was embroidered with all the diamonds that had been painstakingly removed from her mother's dress. Family heirlooms, sewn into a dress, it had taken almost a year to complete and Draco thought he might go gray by the end of it. At this point he just wanted to see his best friend down the aisle so that he could settle into his own newly married life.
"Pansy, breathe. It's going to be fine. I'll get my mother," Draco said calmly. Pansy's own mother had died during the war, leaving her rather frantic while planning the wedding of the century. Draco had let her claim the title gladly, but quickly found that her wedding was causing him more headaches than his own had cost him, and even though he knew that Astoria was peeved. Theirs had been a relatively calm affair – only about 150 guests.
"Pansy," Narcissa said as she entered. "Just breathe darling. I have something to fix the problem – without ruining the dress. And it can be your something borrowed," Narcissa said with a smile. She pulled off her long gloves, and with a careful charm matched them to the shade of the dress. She helped Pansy pull them on, rolling them carefully up back the girl's marked arm to her elbows.
"See," Narcissa said turning the younger woman toward the mirror. Pansy offered Narcissa a watery smile. "You are a vision of perfection."
"Thank you Narcissa. I don't know what I was thinking, getting a sleeveless gown," Pansy replied.
"Now, now stop crying. Otherwise you'll ruin your makeup."
Draco returned shortly thereafter, right before the march began, to collect his mother and bring her down to her seat. He would then join Theo at the alter.
"I wish none of you children had to bear this burden. It was never supposed to be yours to carry."
"It's not your fault mother," Draco said, patting her hand as he handed her another pair of gloves. Narcissa pulled them on quickly to cover her own mark. She had managed to survive the entire first war, and most of the second without declaring her loyalty, it was assumed. However, the first time Lucius was sent to Azkaban she had attempted to delay Draco's induction to Voldermort's inner circle by taking her husband's place herself.
Unfortunately, Bellatrix – despite her slightly deranged characteristics – loved her sister too much to allow her to play an active role in the war. When Voldermort grew tired of running Bella's circles he ordered Draco to assume Lucius' mantle – to bring the family back into his better graces. Draco had done it – to save his mother.
When Tracie emerged from the bathroom she was much calmer and Narcissa handed her cloak to Draco.
"Alright then?" Draco asked with a smile. Tracie nodded. Her dress was a crisscross of green and silver, and Draco could understand why she had fallen in love with it, but it must have originally been sleeveless – the original straps fell lazily down the sides of her arms, leaving her shoulders bare.. Narcissa had meticulously crafted a lace overlay in the same emerald green as the rest of the dress, that now encased Tracie's arms and fell to her wrists. It looked as though it had come with the dress. Draco slipped an arm around her waist to escort her to the Drawing Room to collect his son and Ginerva for dinner.
"I promise no more panic attacks," Tracie said softly as they approached the room. Draco shrugged.
"We all went to forget Trace, it's okay. I understand, one day it won't matter."